Student Exchange Program: from SCE to a semester in Europe
“Open your minds, set out into the world and gain another trip after the army” – this is how Yoad Wolfstal answered the question about what he tells his friends that are debating whether to go abroad through the student exchange program. After spending almost six months in Germany, with several weekend visits to various European cities, his statements are quite understandable.
“Wolfstal, 28, originally from Binyamina, and now living in Be’er Sheva, is a 4th year software engineering student at SCE. Towards the end of last year, he had the opportunity to study a semester abroad at OVGU, Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg in Germany. Making a last minute decision, he packed himself up and set out for an adventure.
“I took four courses there, not all directly in programming, and one additional course in German,” Wolfstal says about his studies. “The lessons were conducted in English and they all were on a good level. I chose these courses in advance, so that at least some of them would offer me a pleasant learning experience that is not too exhausting.”
Wolfstal was the only Israeli amongst dozens of European students that took part in this semester long project. “We were all part of the Erasmus + program of the EU in support of education,” he explains, “and throughout the university campus, one of the nine student dormitory buildings was dedicated solely to us. I received my own room, with a kitchenette and a work space – which was very convenient.”
Magdeburg, a peaceful town situated along the banks of the Elbe River, is a wonderful location for trips throughout Germany and outside the country. Wolfstal definitely took advantage of this asset: “On one occasion, my friends from Israel came to Berlin for a few days. In one and a half hours I joined them and we spent time together in the city. On weekends I traveled along with friends from the program to locations outside of Germany. We visited Prague and Amsterdam, both of which are only a 5-6 hour journey away. These trips gave us a break from the study routine, and added some diversity and enjoyment.”
How did he have the money for these trips, you may ask? Well, Erasmus + covers the flight expenses from Israel and back, and also grants each student monthly wages of 800 Euros during the semester. “Let’s say that even after paying 250 Euros for rent in the dorms, and all my living expenses, I even came back with some money in my pocket,” says Wolfstal with a smile.
Another fact that puts a smile on his face is the Whassup group that was formed in Magdeburg. “During the duration of my stay, a good connection was established between about ten people from the program. These are the people that I would spend my weekends with, at parties around the city or on trips outside. One of the things we would do was have concept meals, and until this day I receive pictures on Whassup of what looks like humus, with the caption “I made it myself.”